June 28, 2005

Death Stalks The Hundred Acre Wood


I see where Paul Winchell, the voice of Tigger, and John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet, both died over the weekend. This follows the death of Howard Morris, who played Gopher, last month.

This inspired my more eviiiil side to think a Pooh Dead Pool might be in order, but further research reveals that not many of the original denizens are left.

Curiously, the Grim Reaper seems to pass through the Hundred Acre Wood on a regular basis, taking out several locals on each pass (and getting more efficient each time). Sebastian Cabot, the original narr-A-tor, Junius Matthews, who played Rabbit and Barbara Luddy, who played Mrs. Kanga, all died in the late 70's. Sterling Holloway, who played Pooh himself, and Hal Smith, who played Owl, both died in the early 90's. And now, of course, Fiedler, Morris and Winchell.

This leaves Jon Walmsley (Christopher Robin) and Clint Howard (Roo). God only knows what happened to Ralph Wright, who played Eeyore.

I'm indulging my Dark Side a bit because I have come to heartily loathe All Things Pooh. The movies put out by Disney in the late 60's were very well done and managed to keep a certain amount of the sly humor of the original stories, but since then the whole franchise has degenerated into the worst sort of treacly pablum. The Llama-ettes went through a stage of enthusiasm for the newer cartoons (thankfully now long over) and one could see the collective hand of legions of Child Specialists, all bent on ripping out all that made the originals worth watching (and reading) and replacing it with a combination of the cutesy, the preachy and the saccharine. Bleh.

UPDATE: Of course, the other reason why I dislike Pooh is because of the falling out between A.A. Milne and P.G. Wodehouse. Milne, to put it gently, was something of a tick, one who Plum, as patient a man as he was, eventually felt compelled to drop. Here is a short summary of the fight, including a description of Plum's gentle mockery of his former friend.

Posted by Robert at June 28, 2005 09:27 AM

I studiously avoided all the new Pooh stuff. Quite easy without kids. Besides, the heffalumps always gave me the willies.

Posted by: rbj at June 28, 2005 09:38 AM

Amen. I love the original books, the movie is good (although Ernest Shephard blasted the first short for removing Piglet and putting in Gopher, and I agree) the 1981 short that they did around "Poohsticks" was just OK, and everything else is just crap. I can only stand to watch the Tigger and Piglet movies in Chinese, because then I have to concentrate on understanding the Chinese and don't have time to reflect on the saccharine crap. In English the new stuff just kills brain cells.

Posted by: John at June 28, 2005 09:39 AM

I love all things Pooh, and alweays will, for one simple reason:

When I was a Very Small Child, I was also a Very Sick Child. As in an Almost Died Several Times Child. I was in and out of hospitals more often than Liz Taylor was in and out of marriages. And through it all, my constant companion was a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear. he was my comfort and my friend and something to cling to when I was very very scared. I loved him so ardently as a child, his nose wore off, his eyes wore off and had to be replaced by patches of cloth that didn't even match his color, a fate his neck met as well. He was re-stuffed and re-stitched so many times that eventually, his fabric would no longer hold a stitch without unravelling. I still keep what's left of him in a keepsake box in a ziplock back. So as insipid as the new stuff may be, as unworthy of the great legacy, if I ever hear anyone disparage all things Pooh in general, I will fight them.

As an aside, at a garage sale this last weekend, I found and purchased for The Lad an old Yearling Books boxed set of Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six, all in excellent condition. It's so old that the individual prices on the books are 75 cents and 95 cents. It cost me $4.

Posted by: Brian B at June 28, 2005 11:03 AM

That should be always, not alweays. And ziplock bag, not ziplock back.

Posted by: Brian B at June 28, 2005 11:08 AM

I understand - it's hard to type straight when you're seeing red. As it happens, we've got some ancient hardback editions of the books handed down from my own youth. I got no quarrel with them. It's more the "Winnie the Pooh's Be Kind To Your Little Friends" stuff (a real title, btw) that turns my shtomack.

Posted by: Robert the LB at June 28, 2005 12:03 PM

I understand - it's hard to type straight when you're seeing red.

Actually, I'm sure it had more to do with being a Blogger of very small brain.

Posted by: Brian B at June 28, 2005 12:48 PM

"A fellow who comes on a platform and starts reciting about Christopher Robin going hoppity-hoppity-hop (or alternatively saying his prayers) does not do so from sheer wantonness but because he is a helpless victim of circumstances beyond his control."

Actually, I like Pooh, too. Not the new stuff but the original books. Still one must stick up for old Plum. And one recognizes the difficulty the real Christopher Robin must have had growing up.

Posted by: Rachel at June 28, 2005 01:12 PM

I think instead of commenting further, I'll Blog on this myself, because I suddenly find myself with very much to say.

Posted by: Brian B at June 28, 2005 01:23 PM

Clint Howard was the voice of Roo? Would that be Ron Howard's brother Clint (the one that has a role in every one of his brother's movies)? If true, that would be a cool fact to know.

Posted by: Russ from Winterset at June 28, 2005 01:32 PM

I mourn more the loss of the voice of Tony the Tiger and Kirby (from The Brave Little Toaster).

But still. . .!! They're all dropping like flies, aren't they?

My childhood. Up in flames. *sniffle*

Posted by: Margi at June 28, 2005 03:42 PM

I keep reading that Paul Winchell was "the voice of Tigger."

OK, but am I the only one who remembers "Winchell-Mahoney Time"?

Jerry Mahoney? Knucklehead? Come on, people, I can't be that old!

Posted by: John from WuzzaDem at June 28, 2005 05:27 PM

I've got to go with Dorothy Parker--her review of the first of the series ended, "At this point, Tonstant Weader fwew up."
Well okay, it isn't quite that bad in the original, and Shepherd's drawings are superb --right up there with Walter Crane and Ralph Caldicott, I think-- but once Disney got hold of it--once it got Disneyfied--it fit the definition of cruel and unusual punishment to be read or (worse) watched. Because of that appaling cutesy voice of Pooh, for one thing. Was that one of the actors who just died? (I don't follow these things.) God have mercy on his soul--he was probably only doing it for the money.
The difference between Plum and Milne is that Plum was a gentleman. The Real Thing.

Posted by: skeptic at June 28, 2005 09:01 PM
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